Lance Stroll, Williams, Silverstone, 2017

Williams “can’t have another year like this”

2017 Italian Grand Prix

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Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams says the team has undertaken a root-and-branch examination of its operations to raise its game in 2018.

The Mercedes customer team is enduring a difficult season having taken a single podium finish so far in Azerbaijan. It lies fifth in the constructors’ championship with 45 points, less than half of what it had 12 races into last season.

Sergio Perez, Force India, Monza, 2017
Italian GP practice in pictures
Williams said Paddy Lowe, who joined the team from Mercedes as chief technical officer, has been investigating what the team needs to do to become competitive again.

“As you would expect someone of Paddy’s calibre has a plan,” said Williams in today’s FIA press conference.

“Ever since he joined us back in March this year he’s been undertaking a full analysis of the team back at the factory but also the race team operations on the ground track-side in order to understand where the weaknesses lie. We’ve gone through that as a board. And now we’re looking at how we allocate resources forward into 2018 so that we can address those weaknesses.”

“A lot of our weaknesses appeared at the mid-point of last season and we can’t go into another season having the same issues we’ve had. So we have full trust in Paddy but also we brought in a number of other senior personnel to work alongside him. Dirk de Beer heads out aerodynamic department as well, comes from Ferrari this year to us. And some other senior engineers that are hopefully going to turn things around for us. But as I said we can’t have another year like this.”

Felipe Massa announced his retirement from at F1 at Monza 12 months ago but returned to drive for the team after Valtteri Bottas moved to Mercedes. Williams would not be drawn on whether he might continue at the team for another year.

“Felipe’s done a fantastic job,” she said, “it’s been a bonus year for us.”

“He very kindly came back and he’s really delivered for us. Obviously the last couple of races have been tough for him with his medical issue. But we’re through that now and we’re looking forward to him delivering for the rest of the year. ”

“And we really just have to wait and see. I think I’ve made it really clear the team at the moment are focusing on the constructors’ championship.We need to make sure that we consolidate our P5. I don’t think we’re going to close the gap to [Force India], unfortunately, but there’s a lot of teams behind us that would love to overtaking us and we can’t afford that.”

“So for us the focus has to be on track performance at the moment rather than diluting that effort with thoughts about driver line-up. There’s still eight races to go, there’s plenty of time to be thinking about next year.”

2017 Italian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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  • 27 comments on “Williams “can’t have another year like this””

    1. Paddy’s influence will make itself known on the 2018 car, but I’m not anticipating any major gains from Williams to be honest. I think Renault will surpass them next season given how much they’ve improved from 2016-2017 and the huge investments they’re making

      1. I think Alan Jones is right, Williams is going over the F1 cliff.. wheeling and dealing sponsorship is one thing But the “Stroll deal” was a sign of how much trouble the team is in.
        Claire is a spokes person with a BS title for legal reasons and if she wasn’t Franks daughter she would be a graphic designer and no matter how much PR comes out of the team about Claire doing this and that ..she is unqualified in running a F1 team and is NOT running it.
        Once Frank has gone so will Williams as we know it, it will merge or bought out or go the way of lotus brabham ect…a shame to see this once great F1 Marque sliding down the grid

      2. I think Renault will out-pace them this season itself. Williams really do need a top class driver in one of their seats next year. I say one because the other is occupied by a driver who is perhaps worth a few tenths solely on account of the finances he gets to the team (which helps of course). Ideally, it needs a driver who will consistently deliver a top 3 performance and ends up as the best of the rest every single race and pounces on every opportunity when the three main teams fail to capitalise for some reason or the other. It is quite obvious who that driver should be but he’ll probably re-sign for McLaren. Sainz is pretty good but you don’t want Stroll’s money going into luring him out of his RB/STR contract. So, unless the relationship between the FI Drivers becomes untenable (leading to Perez switching next year), you’d think Di Resta is the only logical choice!

    2. Its a 2nd year in a raw that every kind of Williams upgrade has failed & the 3rd consecutive season that the car starts really well,but fades away dramatically during the season…This year was a risk year.They brought Massa back,who still performs & he is in better shape than 2016,but lost many points due to bad luck(Russia-Baku around 40 points).Plus they took the risk of bringing, that early,Stroll.For me, Stroll should have been in F2 this season while driving at every FP1 to get used to the cars.By doing so he would be much much more prepared for 2018.Many consider their lineup as the worst,but Williams issue hasnt been drivers,but the failed development once again.The decline from Baku(fight for the win) to Austria(Q1 exit for both), has marked Williams season so far.

      1. [Massa] is in better shape than 2016

        Is he? I doubt it, but to be honest it is quite hard to make a realistic assessment given his current teammate.

        You are totally right that Williams failed their development again this year.

        1. He is.As a fan of him,i can say he is better than last year.His drive in Baku(till the DNF) & Spa proves that.His qualy was, till Baku,better as well.There is no intra team battle,but he has been more free & when the car was good,he was always there.He had terrible bad luck from Russia-Baku,where he scored only 4 points & that has affected the image of his season.

    3. In the last 3 years, Mercedes customer teams have won the exact same amount of races as Mclaren-Honda.

    4. Perhaps they could think about signing a decent driver? Massa’s results aren’t too dis-similar from what he achieved last year – it’s just that instead of having Bottas finish a few places ahead of him, they have Stroll finishing a few places behind.

      1. In the first 12 races of 2016, Massa finished in the points 7 times and Bottas finshed in the points 10 times.

        In the first 12 races of 2017, Massa finished in the points 7 times and Stroll finished in the points 3 times.

        There is your difference.

        1. The main problem is Stroll, actually. Massa has been unlucky. He was on route to win the Baku race when the car failed.

          He was taken out by Sainz on Canada on what was one of the best races for Williams and even Stroll scored points.

          So, the problem is Stroll. They need to have 2 drivers capable of scoring points regularly and they only have one. When Massa has problems, they are nowhere. Same thing, or worse than Haas last year, cuz Gutierrez was bad but at least he was level with the competition, Stroll isn’t.

          1. I don’t like stroll but he’s dad offered the team a deal and the team accepted.they realized he wasn’t verry good and if they didn’t they should have.

            1. they realized he wasn’t verry good and if they didn’t they should have.

              Go & watch last year’s FIA F3 season, If you do you will see that that comment isn’t anywhere close to been accurate.

              He won the championship with more wins, more pole positions, several races he dominated & a few where he had to fight through the field from the back.

              Regardless of any backing he had he’d have got to F1 based on results alone anyway.

            2. Well, he had his team mate working for him on F3. How many times did you see that happening?
              Him sitting on the car and crashing it after a few laps, or barely beating the slowest cars on the grid on the first races is the proof that he wasn’t ready.

              Compare him with any other rookie, he was by far the most unprepared.

        2. @petebaldwin, Massa might have finished in the points as frequently this year, but his average finishing position has been lower than in 2016. I know that Stroll is an easy target, but frankly that feels like people wanting to avoid blaming the team – even if Bottas was still driving for them, I expect that Williams would still be doing pretty poorly this season.

          They started out strongly in 2014, but their development philosophy since then has been deeply flawed – there were repeated reports in 2015 and 2016 that they had aero balance issues that was causing the cars to handle poorly, with some of those issues seemingly carrying over to the current car, as well as persistent issues with mechanical grip that are still persisting to this day.

          For several years now, Williams have been trying to deal with the symptoms of a fundamentally flawed chassis rather than biting the bullet and redesigning the chassis altogether, and over time they’ve hit the point where trying to design around those problems is slowing them down significantly.

          Paddy Lowe has been rather blunt with his assessment too, saying that he intends to significantly shift Williams’s current design philosophy as he considers it to be rather flawed. He’s also pointed out that the team has not been using the resources that they do have anything like as efficiently as their rivals – they have one of the larger budgets of the midfield pack, but have frequently been out-developed by Force India despite Williams having a substantially larger budget (some have suggested close to 50% more than Force India’s budget), and now Toro Rosso and Haas are beginning to catch them as well.

          For years, the team has been criticised for having a relatively archaic design department – hiring figures like Lowe and de Beer will certainly help, but frankly the team is long overdue for a major overhaul of their design department.

    5. I think looking at the Driver lineup might provide the answer for 2017’s performance! They have swapped an excellent, consistently fast, point scoring driver for cash, I don’t think it needs a ‘root and branch’ review to understand the problems.

      Apart from Strolls freak podium, there is no way that driver pairing is pushing the current car to it’s limits – imagine what Hulkenberg or either of the Force India drivers would be delivering if they were swapped with the Williams pairing.

      Last year Valterri delivered 85 points for the team to Massa’s 53. It looks like Massa will fall short of 53 this year and Stroll may pick up another 10 or so before the end of the Season. Even acknowledging previous Williams mid season issues it doesn’t take an experienced leader to see where the points are being ‘lost’.

      1. Driver pairings like williams have signed create knock on effects in the team. If you’re a factory based engineer with a family are you putting in the extra hour a day for your drivers or going home to your kids? The wonder why they’re being out developed. Not everyone will go the extra mile when two potato’s are at the wheel.

    6. Alonso to Williams for 2018. I think he can challenge Red Bull with a decent car.

    7. As others have suggested, one option would be to replace one or both drivers. Bottas, Perez, Alonso, and Kvyat are just some who could help and haven’t signed for next year.

    8. Williams have never really been as competitive again since Patrick Head stepped down as Technical Director in 2004. If it hadn’t been for him, Williams would have been nowhere throughout their history. But who knows; with Paddy Lowe they could be competitive once again.

    9. Massa is just there to make Stroll look good – not so bad that is.

      I’d hire Perez and Wehrlein for next year. Both could well to be without a team after this year.

    10. there biggest problem this year has been that the update they brought for austria not only didn’t work but saw them go backwards.

      the car looked like the 4th or 5th best car until then but since the austria update they have slipped behind force india, renault & probably even toro rosso with both massa & stroll complaining about the same problems getting the tyres to work over 1 lap in qualifying & a lack of consistent balance during a race.

      for both drivers to complain about the same thing its clear its something that was changed on the car rather than a driver specific issue, especially given how the drivers pace fell off at the point that update was applied.

      1. I agree. At the start of the season they were faster then i thought, but they seem to have trouble developing in season.

    11. A bad decision in F1 can leave a team in the wilderness for years. Williams is an example of that. FW should have given Adrian Newey a stake in the firm to keep him there in 1997. That mistake was compounded by getting into bed with BMW. The relationship soured and Williams have struggled ever since. I think McLaren might be in the same boat now. Two of the greatest teams are now mid-pack. I also note that Sam Michael was a senior figure at both teams. What is his legacy?

    12. Back in 2014, when the new turbo era began, Williams found themselves on the sharper end of the grid, thanks to the superior Mercedes engine. Scoring 320, 257 and 138 points respectively in the last 3 years, and they can’t hope for more than 75-80 points this year. This massive drop year by year cannot be blamed on the engine, and cannot be blamed on the drivers as well, as it remaind the same until this year.

      1. @andrewt True, the Mercedes engine has been a big asset since 2014. Back in 2014, both Ferrari and Renault were struggling, in 2015 only Renault were struggling and since 2016 Renault is at least half-decent, which partially explains why Williams have become less competitive and lost out to Ferrari and Red Bull. In 2014 their low-drag configuration worked really well and they managed to develop the car during the season. They peaked in the second half of 2014, but since then they’ve gradually moved backwards. Since then they tend to perform better at the beginning of the season, which suggests that their main problem is that they somehow can’t develop the car during the season.

    13. Design, development, updates and efficiency overhaul seems like the right way to go – but wouldnt a concrete points scorer like Hulk or Perez make a huge difference too?
      Sadly Alonso is out of their reach, and why would he move to Williams anyway – Alonso stays put or goes to Renault.
      I think of the newbies, wherlein has not performed to expectations – How the Ocon/Perez situation works out could leave one of them looking elsewhere?

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